Interview with Rashad Mehbaliyev, Board Member of the Azerbaijani Hungarian Youth Union – Migration Communities in Hungary.

Rashad Mehbaliyev is an Azerbaijani-born economist having lived in Hungary in the past eight years and is a board member of the Azerbaijani-Hungarian Youth Union, founded in 2012. We sat down with him to talk about the Azerbaijani community in Hungary, the challenges it faces in everyday life and its opportunities to address these issues.

What is your personal story of coming to Hungary?

I came to Hungary in 2009 with a scholarship to study at Central Europe University. I came to study my master’s degree in economics, and after graduation I received a job offer from IBM. I liked Hungary and my life in Budapest, therefore I decided to stay here.

What were the major difficulties you experienced when you first arrived to Hungary?

Since I came to Central Europe University, everything was in English in campus. They have 25 years of experience teaching in Hungary, so they know how to treat people from different countries all over the world. They know how to manage it efficiently. I was on a small island where everything was done completely differently and in efficient way for foreigners. There we had a very comfortable life, but studying was very hard. I didn’t have any difficulty as we were helped with many issues. [After completing my education] I had more difficulties because I had to do everything myself. When you’re a student almost everything is done for you, but when you are working you have to manage many things on your own. It was quite difficult, because back then I didn’t speak Hungarian at all. There weren’t even enough websites to search for an apartment or real estate agents in English. Now, our community has fewer difficulties because there are more websites and other things available in English. Therefore I think younger generation has fewer problems here.

Can you tell us about your organization?

We try to link Azerbaijani and Hungarian people in whichever ways we can, except we are not involved in politics. We help Hungarian people to go to Azerbaijan for travel or study, and vice versa. It’s much easier to bring Azerbaijanis here because there are more opportunities for foreigners in Hungary, and we know how to approach to our people. Moreover, Azerbaijan is economically less developed than Hungary, therefore Hungarians have less interest in going to Azerbaijan. We organize cultural and promotional events either in Hungary or Azerbaijan, and we help businessmen in both countries to meet each other for mutually beneficial deals. In simple words, integration is our main goal.

How long is the history of the Azerbaijani community in Hungary?

There was not enough movement from Azerbaijan to Hungary during the socialist times, but after the regime changed and the Soviet Union collapsed, people started migrating more. In 1990s, Hungary was not a popular destination for us, but after Central Europe University started accepting Azerbaijani students on scholarship more of us came here starting from late 1990s and early 2000s, it was about 20-30 a year in mid-2000s. Many of them returned to Azerbaijan, but some of them, like me, stayed here after graduation. Another wave of movement here came when the capitals connected via direct route by Wizzair around 4-5 years ago, consequently tourism became popular. Now there is much more interaction between 2 countries. The Hungarian government launched Stipendium Hungaricum scholarship, so now around 200 students from Azerbaijan come here every year to study in the prestigious Hungarian universities. At the moment, there are around 400 people here, and it will continue to grow.

Read the full interview HERE.

Source: Migration Communities in Hungary

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